TEXT: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
The Power of the Resurrection Which Turns Sinners Into Believers (Powerful Life Lessons from the Aftermath of the Resurrection #8)
Today, millions of people around the globe acknowledge and remember the life and death of the most incredible Man who ever walked on Earth — Jesus Christ. Yet, this man is remembered not just for what He did during His life, but for what He did after His death. Very simply, He rose from the dead. Without the resurrection, Jesus Christ very likely would have faded into the pages of history — chalked up as just another zealous Jew who failed in His attempt to upset the established religious order and overthrow Roman oppression.
Yet, the resurrection did happen. And today the luminous figure that is Jesus Christ reigns supreme as the most important, the most controversial, and the most beloved Person who ever lived. Carnegie Simpson said, “Instinctively we do not class Him with others. When one reads His name in a list beginning with Confucius and ending with Goethe we feel it is an offense less against orthodoxy than against decency. Jesus is not one of the group of the world’s great. Talk about Alexander the Great and Charles the Great and Napoleon the Great if you will…Jesus is apart. He is not the Great; He is the Only. He is simply Jesus….He confounds our canons of human nature.” You may not care for Christians and you may not like the church, but no one can deny the impact that Jesus Christ has on the world. His followers took a fledgling movement and caused it to explode into a worldwide phenomenon. It has endured through violent persecution, intellectual assault, and systematic attempts to stamp it out.
On this Easter Sunday, I want to talk about the root of the Christian message — the Gospel — and what it is that makes this message so powerful, so resilient, and so unstoppable.
First, notice its simplicity. Paul reminds the Corinthian believers, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you…” The word “gospel” simply means good news. Everybody likes to receive good news: a baby being born, a loved one being healed of a disease, someone sending you money, the announcement of an engagement or marriage. Everybody likes to receive good news. And the best news that the world has ever received is the simple message of the Gospel.
Paul says that this simple message is that “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” That is the Gospel.
All of what Paul mentioned is essential to the Gospel. Nothing can be left out. The death of Christ is necessary because God says the “wages of sin is death.” If Christ did not die, then He could not have truly paid for our sins.
The burial of Christ is necessary because it shows the sovereignty of God and the fulfillment of divine prophecy. You see, when Jesus was crucified, He was nailed on a cross between two thieves like a common criminal. Of course, something would have to be done with His body. However, the manner in which Jesus was buried is highly unusual. According to Roman tradition, criminals who were crucified were left on the cross until their bodies decayed. The only exception was made for family members who came to request the body of the one crucified. According to the Jewish tradition of that time, any Jew who had been handed over to the Romans by the religious leaders to be crucified was buried in a designated area far outside of Jerusalem.
However, Jesus’ burial followed neither of these procedures. His body was not left on the cross nor was it released to family members. It also was not cast in the communal burial area set aside for Jewish criminals. Rather, we are told that a wealthy man, a high-ranking religious leader by the name of Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and begged for the body of Jesus. Pilate granted his request, and Joseph and another Jewish religious leader, Nicodemus, took Jesus’ body and buried it in Joseph’s own tomb. This was all done according to a prophecy that had been written over 700 years earlier. Isaiah stated that although the Messiah would be “assigned a grave with the wicked” he would end up being buried “with the rich in his death.” That is why the burial is necessary to the Gospel message. Against all odds, Jesus was buried just as the Prophet Isaiah had predicted.
Now, we also see that the resurrection is necessary to the Gospel. Without the resurrection, we have no assurance that Jesus defeated death, defeated Hell, and guaranteed eternal life for us. As they say, if you follow a dead man, you will end up just like him. Thank God that Jesus is not just another dead man. John Walvoord and Roy Zuck state, “To reject bodily resurrection eviscerates ‘the gospel’ and makes faith vain or ‘without success’.”
The Gospel is an amazing, miraculous, spectacular message, yet it is a very simple message. Other religions have lists of rules that must be kept and things that must be done in order to gain God’s approval or to avoid eternal damnation. However, God gives us a simple message — that of the death, burial, and resurrection of His own Son, Jesus Christ.
Second, notice its transformative power. Paul writes that the Corinthian believers had ‘received the Gospel and stood in the Gospel.’ It is not enough to hear the simple message of the Gospel. It must be believed and received if it is to have an impact on your life.
Now the believers at Corinth were not the most faithful or holy people. They were sinners like everyone else. The city of Corinth was a prominent port city in Paul’s day. William Barclay writes that it was known across the Mediterranean region as a city of drunkenness and debauchery. The goddess of love, Aph-ro-dite, had her temple there, and there were 1,000 prostitutes in service to it. Modern excavations have also uncovered 33 wine shops in the city.
Even in his letters to the Corinthians, Paul had to rebuke certain vices among them. There was sexual immorality, acceptance of sin, arguments between groups of believers, and disunity in the local church. So, the people of Corinth were no strangers to the filth and demoralization of sin. However, they were also no strangers to the transformative power of the Gospel. In First Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul writes, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” But he doesn’t stop there. He says, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
That is the transformative power of the Gospel: it takes those bound by sin and makes them free; it takes the dead in spirit and gives them new life; it takes sinners and makes saints.
The Gospel is a simple message. The Gospel is a transformative message. And, third, we see that the Gospel is an enduring message. Paul writes of the Gospel — “By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” When we believe and receive the Gospel, we are immediately saved by Jesus Christ. Through our belief in the Gospel, our lives are transformed so that we become more like Christ. And through our continued belief in the Gospel, we endure and persevere as we live the Christian life.
Paul’s phrase “keep in memory” can also be translated as “hold fast.” One commentator notes that this indicates that there are people or forces which attempt to remove from our memory or snatch away from us the truth of the Gospel. In the early church, there were numerous men who rose up preaching false doctrine and trying to draw believers away from the message of the Gospel. Throughout history, there have been those who attempted to twist the church into something that it was never intended to be. Some tried to tear down the church from the inside. Others attacked it from the outside. Even today, Christians are mocked and ridiculed by those who do not believe. Young Christians are under pressure to abandon their faith. The biblical foundations of the Gospel have been attacked by intellectuals and academics the world over. But the Gospel endures. It is like trying to drown a balloon — you push it under the water, but it pops right back up.
Because the Gospel endures, we can hold fast to it and continue to believe. All those who have opposed the Gospel have failed in their attempts to undermine it. All those who tried to stamp out the Christian message after the resurrection of Jesus Christ also met similar defeat. Year after year, the number of lives changed by the Man who rose from the dead increases. William Lecky, a British historian and a prominent opponent of the church, said, “The simple record of the three short years of [Jesus’] life has done more to regenerate and soften mankind than all the discourses of philosophers and all the exhortations of moralists.”
Jesus Christ alone can transform mankind — taking us from sinfulness to salvation. His Gospel is the only means by which people can experience a change in their eternal destination — from everlasting pain and punishment to peace with God and life eternal. Will you believe the simple message of the risen Savior today?
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If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you briefly how you can be saved from your sins and be guaranteed a home in Heaven with God today.
First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…” This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.
But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for over twenty-seven years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.